Greece might exit the euro afterall...
A Greek government spokesperson reveals that the country might exit the euro if the second bailout package is not signed
Greece is becoming impatient over the signing of its second bailout package – if the recent remarks by a Greek government spokesperson are anything to go by.
In a seemingly threatening statement, Pantelis Kapsis told Greek TV station Skai TV that (emphasis ours):
Greece is waiting to secure its second round of bailout money, worth €130 billion, from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund.
While the second round of the rescue deal looked set to go ahead in October, the signing of the agreement was scuppered after public opposition to the deal – which was conditional on a large number of fiscal deficit measures – led the then prime minister George Papandreou to call for a referendum on the package.
Greek concessions included wage cuts for public sector workers to 60%, 30,000 public sector workers to be suspended, a new pay and promotion system for 700,000 civil servants to be installed, while pensions and lump-sum retirement pay were to be cut alongside higher retirement ages and a lowering of the tax-free threshold to €5,000 a year.
The announcement of the deal initially caused a surge in positive trading across European bourses, with markets reaching peak levels for 2011.
Since then, Lucas Papademos has been named as the new Greek Prime Minister and has resumed talks on the second bailout package.
Speculation over whether Greece will leave the euro has rumbled on for months. While some economists say that an exit from the euro is slim, it has not stopped banks and other financial institutions from stress testing its system in the event of a withdrawal.
Other experts have emphasised that a break-up of the euro is plausible.
Meanwhile, Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy have been trying to iron out fiscal measures to save the eurozone from plummeting further into the abyss. While details of a EU member-wide treaty were revealed in December, lawyers hit back by stating that the treaty itself is still fraught with uncertainty and loopholes, and some regulators are in legal denial over the implementation of certain proposals.
However, Merkel and Sarkozy revealed on Tuesday that it has constructed plans for a bilateral summit next week to tackle the eurozone crisis.
The meeting, to take place in Berlin, will be the first of many this month.